I am a glob of mixed emotions. 12 days left in the semester. It is taking everything in me not to cry multiple time a day. I love crying. It’s cathartic. It makes me feel better. But right now, I’m feeling the urge to do so all too often.
I get this way each year, with last year probably being the most severe. I was trying to sort through heartache, I was scared of studying abroad for the summer, and I could not comprehend how half of my undergrad experience was over and done with.
I wondered if I had wasted my time. I wondered if I was headed down a bad path, even though I was doing a lot of things right.
(the first picture Ian and I took together- we met the day before.)
A year later, I can trivialize that pain and terror, to a certain extent. Especially when it came to the heartache. That is one is super easy now because I have Ian, who is infinitely kinder, warmer, and healthier for my heart. When I reflect on the anxiety I had toward studying abroad, it’s guided by the irreplaceable memories made in Spain. Both were mendable fears.
As for college rushing by, well… that one is more prevalent than ever.
Overall, it’s been a life-changing year, and the majority of those changes have been for the positive. I settled into a community of strong friendships who are, without fail, the most supportive people I’ve ever had surround me. I met the love of my life, who continues to surprise me almost eight months in. I engaged with professors who challenged me to soar into new academic heights.
There were a lot of negatives to the year as well, though.
I ended a few friendships that used to play a central role in my life. Yes, those friendships were toxic, and yes I did the right thing, but knowing that doesn’t entirely bring comfort.
I was rejected… a lot. I was rejected from fellowships and internships. I didn’t get rehired as an RA. I am probably going to get a C in my grammar course no matter how hard I study in these final weeks or how much I studied during the semester.
I could go on about the negatives, but I won’t. That’ll just harm my state of mind.
I guess you could say, I have been feeling remarkably inadequate.
I keep sensing myself falling into a dark space of thoughts telling me I am not recovered enough. I am not a good enough girlfriend. I am not a good enough writer. So on and so forth.
This morning was hard for me. I don’t sleep well after being woken up by an intoxicated resident vomiting outside my door, so I know that amplified the sadness (lack of sleep = mental bomb). But I had the realization that this anxiety creeps up on me every year around this time. Classes are wrapping up, packing boxes are everywhere, and so many events are set in motion, while I’m over in my corner of stress wanting to press pause. I know I’ll continue to go through similar phases of life forever.
I made it through last year, and I can make it through this year.
Probably the most significant (& positive!) change for me though? I loosened up. Not as much as I hope to, but in comparison to previous years, I loosened up a great deal.
I explored. I opened up. I traveled. I spoke up for myself. I leaned into vulnerability (I’m reading Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly right now). I relaxed. I rested. I told the truth. I apologized. I communicated. I went out and drank. I acted like a college student. I was careless. I read spark notes (*gasp*). I gave up trying to be perfect. I healed.
All of that right there? Those are huge steps for me. Seriously, if you were to meet one of my residents I supervised last year, the first words they would label me as: hard ass. And I totally was. I lived and breathed by rules and routine. Regimes were like my own personal bible- abided by and adhered to.
This year, with the help of my boyfriend and new friends, I broke through that. I am proud of that. I really am. I never thought I’d go out on a Monday night only to slog my way through four back-to-back classes on a Tuesday. I never thought I’d carelessly eat a meal of lasagna, garlic bread, multiple glasses of wine, and chocolate mousse. I never thought I’d go on a weeklong road trip with a man who has love for me in his heart and not feel preoccupied with calories and exercise. But in this year, I got to do all of those things, and so much more. So instead of looking back on this year and feeling inadequate, I am going to be proud of my growth.
I might not have the perfect 4.0 GPA, and I might not go onto get my PhD, and I might not be a published author by 22, but I am going to stop apologizing for a normal life. It’s imperfect, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
- What are you proud of accomplishing recently?
- What’s a goal you’re working toward right now?
- What was the highlight of your weekend?
- If you were to get your PhD in anything you wanted, what would you study?